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back to article Tape lives: LTO-6 rolls out – with more than TWICE the capacity

Licensing specs for the sixth generation of LTO tapes should be ready in August, and make LTO-6 suitable for exabyte-level cloud archive needs. LTO is the Linear Tape Open organisation and there are three technology provider companies: HP, IBM and Quantum, with HP and IBM in the driver's seat. The LTO format has been effectively …

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Anonymous Coward

I would be shitting bricks if I had to restore a back up run from tapes at that scale.

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Coward

*Real* men store their data on tapes, then cry when they get a Read Error B and have to load it all over again.

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Anonymous Coward

Pity it's so damn expensive.

I used to regularly back up my desktop, my laptop, and my servers to tape (8MM).

But disk kept growing, and tape - at least the sort of tape you can afford for personal use - didn't.

Now, sadly, it is far cheaper for me to buy a couple of SATA drives, put them in the "toaster" (external SATA interface), and copy the data to them than to get a tape drive capable of swallowing my 6TB of data in anything resembling a reasonable number of tapes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pity it's so damn expensive.

This sort of tape really isn't consumer tech though, you're much better off with an external disk for home use. DAT is a crummy technology, it's helical scan and subject to a high failure rate, when hard disks were expensive it was useful, but no longer. I wouldn't be without LTO at work, but at home I have a backup VM, which has its own dedicated disk and an external USB disk that this replicates to and is stored offsite.

The other issue with using tape at home is that you have to have two tape drives, one kept offsite, in case your house burns down.

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Holmes

@AC - Re: Pity it's so damn expensive.

AC wrote :- "The other issue with using tape at home is that you have to have two tape drives, one kept offsite, in case your house burns down"

Why? You don't need to buy a new tape drive until the house actually burns down.

Need to keep an eye open that you can still buy drives to suit your tape though. Years ago I used to do back-ups on a Sparq external drive with removable disks. Then Syquest were taken over by Iomega who sold the rival Zip drive system, and they canned Sparq drives. So I had to ditch my working Sparq drive because I could no longer have bought another one to restore my files if my kit was all lost.

Now I use a Travan tape drive to back up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC - Pity it's so damn expensive.

Why? Bitter, bitter experience tells me why... Two reasons mainly:

1) Once your house has burned down, you can't get a replacement drive straight away, if at all, you may have to resort to ebay to get a drive which ends up chewing your precious backup tapes.

2) You can get the drive, but you don't know the specific version of firmware the previous drive used or the new one has interface compatibility problems and it can't read the tapes. This was a problem with an old DLT7000 drive library that I couldn't restore in a DR rehersal for a company I used to work for - the exact same drives wouldn't read carts written with different firmware. It took ages to resolve and likely you may think that your backup tapes are bad.

Also - what's the point of backing your systems up if you can deal without them for so long that you'll probably decide not to bother with the restore after a year or so of meaning to get round to it - this has also happened to a friend of mine.

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Alien

Re: @AC - Pity it's so damn expensive.

If you can't verifiably restore from backup media that's gone offsite (and back onsite), you don't actually have offsite backups — hence your verification process shouldn't depend on devices that would be molten slag in a non-exercise scenario.

Sectoids, because if aliens attack... er, I suppose I'd be busy at work and my home data would have to take care of itself for a while.

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Re: Pity it's so damn expensive.

Give me LTO, give me dedupe for the next 15 years.

Home backups are an issue though. We "experts" engineer our reliable backups, albeit at the cost of much complexity - USB, offsite, encryption, redundancy. "Normal" users, on the other hand - what do they do ? Run some backup app to disk or dabble in the cloud. I wonder how many "normal" users really have valid backups, especially given the mushrooming sise of peoples' personal data archives.

For all our nifty home backup schemes - is our data really that important ? If I lost all my data, or if you lost all yours, would it really be that big a deal? Not half as much as we think IMO. We end up becoming enslaved to this stuff IMO. So you lose all your CDs from 20 years ago that you never listen to anyway. So what. Replace the £20 worth you actually still like.

"The other issue with using tape at home is that you have to have two tape drives, one kept offsite, in case your house burns down."

- just keep the tape offsite, surely ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pity it's so damn expensive.

@Jim - Read what I wrote - Yes, you keep the tapes offsite, obviously, but you also need hardware capable of restoring the data offsite. The whole thing is pretty academic as an external disk with dedupe replicated from an internal disk backup is more than the vast majority of people need.

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Anonymous Coward

Stupid numbers

So the buffer got bigger, so they cranked up the expected compression ratio. You never know you'll get it, of course, though you can be certain you'll get exactly raw storage (or a bit less if you forget to turn compression off) if you store uncompressible stuff like, oh, encrypted things. Of course, if you let the tape handle the encryption (and you just have to hope the implementation is up to snuff) right after it has compressed the data you give it you can have the tape do its compression thing and encrypt your data too, but that's not always an option.

Then, working back, the increase in raw storage (inexplicably left out in the article) is only two thirds extra, not an actual doubling. It's clear marketeering is working hard to paper over it (and clearly Chris copied their prattle verbatim), but there it is. Previous upgrades doubled troughput and raw storage, not so this time. We all knew this was going to happen, of course, so strictly speaking there's very little news in the article. What're we supposed to say, how pretty the clearly visible smoke and mirrors are?

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Anonymous Coward

People still use tape?

In the era of SAN replication and snapshotting, disk based targets, VTL for legacy weird stuff - I just don't see the point. Running a multi-hour catalogue just to find your head of finance's spreadsheet from last March is, um, quaint. I suspect the only real argument for tape is the head of dept always did it that way back in 2003 when he was last in a hands-on job.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: People still use tape?

Depends hugely on your budget and application.

I can't justify the hardware cost to duplicate all my disk storage, I'm not terribly fussed about restore times, and tape lets me make two archival copies for offsite purposes relatively easily. I also find that tape is more likely to work than a hard drive after couple of years on the shelf.

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Meh

Re: People still use tape?

All your eggs in one basket? Tapes do still offer differing benefits, tapes kept offsite, some not, some archived forever, totally disconnected medium. Anyone can change a tape, anyone can check the backup log, so low maintenance too if you get organised. In most towns you will not have a problem finding one to borrow if yours breaks. HDD backups are great, we use these too. But if that's all you have, then if they go wrong, and if means it can, things could get really ugly. A friend who looks after several at various companies now insists on a complementary tape backup too, he had one run out of disk space and it corrupted itself, becoming unusable. Personally I would never have depended on a single HDD backup system in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

Keeping long term archive on disk is not really an option.

I have a customer we are running an exercise for now that has approximately 15TB of source data, they would need about 150TB of replicated disk to hold the legally mandated long term data history.

Not cost effective

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Unhappy

Compressed size?

Who the F! cares about the 'compressed size'?

One of the arrays I need to back up is comprised of 4TB of JPEGs... Compress THAT!

For other arrays I'm lucky to see 1.5:1 compression.

Guess what many 'clouds' contain...

As for the DAT tapes that HP still pushes: they can shove them into a completely different slot!

The effing tapes were never designed for high-speed data(all those accellerations, braking and reversing operations tends to stretch the tape), and after a few write cycles in one drive it'll most likely never be possible to read it out in another drive.

About the only media worse was VHS backup.

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Alert

Re: Compressed size?

For a fairly standard office type data load, I've been getting between 1.1 and 1.2:1 compression recently.

Of course, I just found that the web designer has been keeping his backups of the company forum separately, with weekly ones going back 18 months.

We've just persuaded him that as we already have a working, tested backup routine, perhaps he should let us take over...

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Go

Horses for courses

Tape makes for a great long-term safety-net and it's still low cost compared to dedupe appliances, though only for large scale use these days.

Expensive disk used to be the preserve of tier 1 applications but now costly dedupe appliances are often used for backup and archive, which is a bit nuts for long term storage where data is hardly ever recovered.

Having tape for use where data it is hardly ever recovered makes perfect sense, as long as you automate test recoveries AND track it of course. Dedupe to tape means you can write massive amounts to single tape so writing two isn't a problem and also lowers risk. I know a number of large cloud outfits that engineered tape out and are now putting it back in to control costs.

With the right design and SLA's tape is perfectly sensible for use in the cloud where long retention is required and a shared service model is used - each users data may be relatively low but a high number of users means that the data volume is actually very high.

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rch
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Good for me

The best thing about the introduction of LTO6 is that LTO5 prices now seem to drop to a decent level. Not long ago a LTO5 cartridge was more than two and a half times more expensive than LTO4. And much the same with the drives.

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